History and operations
The Southampton School of Navigation originated with the death of a Southampton wine merchant Henry Robinson Hartley, in 1850. He bequeathed £42,524 to the Southampton Corporation which they received some years later. After advice from the Secretary of the Department of Science Lyon Playfair, 1st Baron Playfair, it was decided that a School of Navigation should be set up, which would be fitting with the recent development of Southampton as a great seaport. After the need to raise additional funds the school was eventually finished in 1902. It was granted university college status and known as the Hartley Institute, based in South Hill in the city of Southampton.
In 1932 the school was expanded when it merged with the Gilchrist Navigation school. At that time the school was confined to preparing students for Board of Trade certificate examinations for Mate, Master and Extra Master. 51 students were taught at this time by only two staff. In 1934 the college expanded to accommodate day cadets and courses for civil air navigation. It was during this time that Captain Whalley Wakeford was appointed as head of the school. Residential cadet courses began in 1937 with cadets completing a sea preparatory course. By 1939 there were 19 cadets, 129 day students and 15 staff and the school has moved to a new home at South Stoneham House in Swaythling where it remained until 1946.
During the Second World War the school remained open to train mariners. In 1940 all students and cadets had joined the Local Defence Volunteers (Home Guard). Courses continued to run despite bombing in the Southampton area. Cadets were still trained and additional courses were created for existing officers from the armed services and abroad, including some 60 free Polish cadets. By 1942 the school had over 180 sea cadets in training and it was decided the school should be moved to a larger campus, which incorporated the existing HMS Tormentor operations base, just outside the village of Warsash. At the request of the United States a special navigation course was provided in 1945 for naval officers stationed in the United Kingdom. By 1946 the entire school had moved to Warsash and included over 316 students and 32 staff (with the name of the college now officially recorded as the Southampton School of Navigation). In 1957 a new building programme at the college began (to replace the existing temporary WW2 structures). Three new residential blocks were created, as well as a refectory building and a new teaching block (including the Whalley Wakeford lecture theatre). One accommodation block Shackleton was finished in 1960 and won an RIBA gold medal. By 1967 a new teaching block had again been constructed and the school was now offering tankers courses as well as Bsc in Nautical Science.
In 1970 Whalley Wakeford, the schools long standing Director retired and the school removed itself from direct control of Southampton University. By 1978 the school had purchased additional grounds and had built a new fire school, to provide professional Halcyon Yacht Charter. In 1986 the college went through a great change, when it merged with the Southampton College of Technology, meaning that for the first time engineers were trained on the same campus, as merchant navy deck officers. The school was renamed "Warsash Maritime College" and went through a period of building expansion which included a new pier, library and engineering block. It was not until the 1990s that the college would again change dramatically, when in 1996 some of the campus on the eastern side of Newtown road was sold to provide funds to provide a new model training facility. The manned model facility remains the only one in the United Kingdom.
Warsash Maritime Academy survival craft facility
By the year 2000 the college had also built three new computer-based training simulators. It was during this period that Warsash Maritime College merged with Southampton Solent University to provide governmental sources of funding. The college was renamed Warsash Maritime Academy, which it is now known as today. The college now accommodates thousands of students throughout the year. Yearly cadets intakes follow two routes as set out by the MCA and are based on the Foundation Degree or Higher National Diploma Route. They specialise in either Deck Operations, Engineering or Electronics. The Academy also runs additional training courses, including specialist STCW courses such as firefighting, sea survival and first aid. The Academy also continues to train officers up to the rate of Master Mariner.
In April 2009, Warsash Maritime Academy announced their plans to move the internationally acclaimed manned model training facility from its currevital ship handling training, on scale model vessels in conditions that emulate real-life maritime experiences, on the UK’s oldest existing reservoir. Using various ship models, berths, basins and channels on the new lake, a variety of port scenarios, canal transits and berthing operations can be simulated for the ships’ officers and pilots under training to practise their ship handling skills.
Complex and, in real life, potentially hazardous manoeuvres can be practised in complete safety in the manned models making them a key training tool for the shipping industry. Bringing 21st century maritime training to Timsbury Lake marks the beginning of a new chapter in Timsburys' history. The 9th century lake has over the years been a source of fish for the monks of Winchester, of water to drive a medieval water mill and the haunt of carp anglers.
Alumni are able to join The Warsash Association which has a fast-growing worldwide membership of 425 (February 2011) including overseas branches in Australia and New Zealand.